Upon the arrival of its 78th F-35A, the 388th fighter wing demonstrated capability by deploying 52 of the jet fighters, combat-ready, into the skies over Utah (FOX 13 News Utah/Max Roth).
The United States Air Force 388th Fighter Wing set a full combat-ready wing into the air with 52 F-35s taking off from their home in an “Elephant Walk” takeoff at Hill Air Force Base on Monday January 6, 2020.
In 14 minutes 51 of 52 F-35s took off from Hill Air Force Base. One F-35 was slightly delayed for a maintenance issue.
The 388th Fighter Wing is supported by 1,900 Active Duty personnel and 1200 Reservists. The air power demonstration was planned before the recent escalation of conflict between the United States and Iran.
Col. Michael Ebner, 388th Fighter Wing, explained that a little over four years ago the base received their first F-35. They now have their full complement of 78 F-35 fighter jets, but all the fighter jets are not currently in Utah because the 34th Fighter Squadron deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab of Emirates in October 2019. Al Dhafra Air Base is about 800 miles south of Tehran, Iran.
The 34th Fighter Squadron is the first operational F-35A Lightning II fighter squadron in the world, and was declared combat-ready on 2 August 2, 2016. The squadron formerly utilized the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet.
The 4th Fighter Squadron (4 FS) is the second unit at Hill Air Force Base to transition to the F-35, following retirement of the F-16 in May 2016. The squadron prepares to deploy worldwide to conduct air-to-air and air-to-ground operations for daylight and nighttime missions.
The United States plans to deploy over 1,700 F-35s at several air force bases in the United States.
The US Navy plans to deploy 260 F-35C aircraft.
The US Marine Corps plans to deploy 340 F-35B aircraft and 80 F-35C.
The F-35A uses a conventional runway take-off and landing method (CTOL). The F-35B is capable of short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL).
The F-35C features larger wings foldable wingtip sections, larger wing and tail control surfaces for improved low-speed control and stronger landing gear features and a stronger tailhook for use with carrier arrestor cables for Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery or Catapult Assisted Take-Off Barrier Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR).
F-35 variants are planned or operational in at least 10 other countries in the world. Israel’s units have probably experienced the most combat action compared to any country, including the United States.
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